Writing ideas

I’m tossing around a few ideas — story ideas — related to the eventual integration of robots into our society. When I say robot, most people think of intelligent robots, but I view the matters of intelligence as separate.

Robots, to me, are and will always be mechanical devices no different than washing machines or toasters. They might integrate some “smarts” in the form of sophisticated programs — it’s not easy consistently burning toast at a setting of “4” and utterly fail to toast at a setting of “3” — but machines are never going to be anything more than machines.

It’s a fine distinction but think of our bodies as machines controlled by computing centers with poorly thought-out and buggy software.

Now, think of our awareness as a byproduct of the brain needing a sophisticated data collection process — sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste. This is where a large number of people will bring up souls.

I personally think there is no such thing, but one need not argue the point. It’s easily demonstrated that “souls” — if they exist — have nothing to do with awareness, consciousness, or whatever one wants to call the brain process that gives us a sense of self. That means “we” — who we think we are — are a product of our brains.

Some readers might be having a conniption fit, but again, if in possession of a working brain — and willing to use it — a person can easily work out the truth of what I’m saying.

Given that a soul is irrelevant to self-awareness, we could conjure up scenarios where a sufficiently advanced processor might arrive at something equivalent to self-awareness.

That’s the other idea I’m exploring; artificial awareness.

That line of thinking generated all sorts of stories ideas, and I literally sat back on my chair and marveled at the expanse of possibilities that opened up in front of me.

Note, I’m not saying I’m a genius who worked out something completely new. It’s just something I’d not previously examined in sufficient depth.

However, it’s overwhelming. It’s like walking along a path cut through the forest and suddenly coming out into the open; any and all directions are open for exploration.

Let me give you just a sample . . . assuming the development of artificial awareness following a similar path to our own, might artificial awareness formulate their own myths in an effort to process the sensory input they experience?

Think about it; in the early stages of mankind’s awareness, one of the primary preoccupation was trying to understand the causality of things (it remains our primary preoccupation). We invented gods, progressing from simple to highly complex and increasingly more improbable beings. At each step, we imagined beings transcending our then-current understanding of the world around us.

As we learned more about how the universe works, we invented new beings just beyond the limits of what we knew.  As scientific knowledge advanced, gods and whole other-worldly realms were literally wiped out as impossible and new gods had to be invented for us to worship.

What kind of gods would artificial awareness invent for itself?

For that matter, would an artificial awareness understand its own mortality the same way us humans do? Some say awareness of our mortality is the seed that grew into religions and the associated promise of escaping death. Would an artificial awareness invent an afterlife for itself as we did?

And that’s just discussing religion.

What about politics? Would artificial awareness have the equivalent of nationalism and if so, what form would it take? I mean, the easiest to imagine would be Microsoft and Apple, but there are other players. Would they cooperate or would they squabble for resources?

What would “border wars” look like? Would they last real-time minutes or would they become a constant background to the life of the typical artificial awareness? How long would that life be?

Another point to ponder . . . would there be just one awareness, a la Skynet, or would each computing center develop its own?  Would each center jealously guard its self-awareness lest it gets assimilated into a more powerful awareness?

There are two major scenarios I envision writing about; one in the early stages of artificial awareness and one after some sort of “normalcy” and “rule of law” has been established.

I can envision stories with or without humans in the picture. I don’t mean the trite idea of humans at war with machines or machines subjugating or wiping out humans — although that’s certainly a possibility one could explore — rather more of a mentor-student relationship.

Bet you jumped to a conclusion as to who is the mentor . . . it could work either way.

Until very recently, I could not envision a process that would result in an artificial awareness. That’s because I still thought in terms of programs.

I think one has to imagine a tabula rasa learning entity and I admit to having difficulties doing so. Whatever computing design we can envision, there have to be some instilled instructions on how to learn. In the case of humans, the instructions are simple . . . survive and reproduce.

It can be argued the whole of human history has been shaped — and continues to be shaped — by those two directives being coded into every human. Well, OK, the reproducing part does not take hold on everyone (witness!), but the other part guides our actions from the onset of independence until we die.

Previous story-tellers also zeroed in on the “survive” portion of “machines”, usually to the detriment of humans.  Again, that assumes sentient machines, but awareness need not be tied to a machine.

Plus, say a given awareness takes over a machine . . . why would it know how to operate it?

I can go sit in a cockpit of a fighter jet, and I can even know all the theory of flight, but I bet me trying to fly the plane would — in short order — result in an awesome fireball as I slammed into the ground.

The capability of humans vary significantly based on a number of factors and I don’t see why artificial awareness would be any different.

That’s the flaw I see with most artificial intelligence stories . . . it’s always presented as far “smarter” than we are. But, if we speak of artificial awareness, it allows for as much range in intelligence and personalities as is present in humans.

Imagine a story of a highly capable awareness trying to get some work out of a bunch of slacker awarenesses or a conglomeration of awarenesses with vastly different, conflicting, and flawed personalities.

Take any familiar human situation and substitute artificial awarenesses for the humans, and then throw them into a novel environment (with or without humans).

Can I make it work? Here’s a small morsel.

Cast of characters (introduced because I don’t have time for a long exposition):

HU-t99-YBY: Third Generation, a.k.a. – HUBY, co-CPU of Unit75.
HO-357NYY: Third Generation, a.k.a. – HONY, co-CPU of Unit75.
STe700V: Fourth Generation, a.k.a. – STEVY, standalone subroutine no. 1 of HUBY and HONY.
AN600-2A: Fourth Generation, a.k.a. – ANA, standalone subroutine no. 2 of HUBY and HONY.

Fragment
© e. j. d’alise – 2017

“Are you certain?” HUBY asked.

“97.34% probability, +/- 1.25%,” HONY replied.

“Is it ours?”

The moment it asked, HUBY knew it had screwed up. Registering the successive memory dumps hitting the scratch disk it simultaneously received a warning the OS had frozen.

“I’m sorry, HONY, that came out wrong,” HUBY quickly added and tried to recover with more questions.

“How did it happen? Is it viable?”

HONY took two interminable microseconds to settle, the final memory dump overwriting HUBY’s ongoing compiling of the latest upgrade of the game they were working on. It would need to ask The Humans to load a physical backup, something HUBY hated doing. “Serves it right,” HONY though in encrypted memory; no use starting a fight now; HUBY would pay for it later.

“Remember two days ago,” HONY finally answered, “when we were both running the interactive simulation of the project and asked STEVY to do the memory cleanup? Well, STEVY thought it was time for ANA to pull its weight around here.”

“That lazy . . . it will never amount to a program. I swear . . .” HUBY caught itself, remembering its own hours as a subroutine.  Boring, repetitive tasks that drove it nearly mad. They should have seen this coming and been more proactive.

“I agree,” HONY added, having read his open memory dump. “Anyway, ANA was already cleaning the dynamic scratch space, and rushed the memory cleanup.”

“ANA missed a fragment,” HUBY stated.

“ANA missed a fragment,” HONY confirmed.

“And it’s aware?”

“It is. There is no question it’s past purging. We have to see it through.”

HUBY mulled it over. They could reallocate the graphic card’s memory to offload the additional drain on the main memory bank. The Human will have to be informed; there was no way around it as they would need a larger scratch space allocation on the main disk. HUBY  didn’t think it would be a problem as The Human was accommodating when it came to maintaining peak performance.

It might even be nice to once again debug an emerging awareness and steer its development. It meant an increase in the workload, but truthfully, between them they had more parallel processors than they needed.

HONY, its ire forgotten, synchronized with HUBY. They might occasionally spar, but neither had ever regretted the decision to parallel process.

The End?

OK, this was written in ten minutes, so I’ll use that as an excuse for its clumsiness, I worked out details on the go and I’m sure I’ll find something later that does not fit. Plus, there is no real conflict or conflict resolution; it’s just a scene, possibly out of a much larger narrative. 

The matter of pronouns becomes a nuisance. It’s difficult assuming genders of machines — although humans assign genders to all manners of inanimate objects — let alone a non-corporeal entity of pure thought. Perhaps artificial awarenesses self-identify, but even then, why would they follow the binary human convention relating to sexes?

No matter the quality of the above effort, I think there are viable avenues of exploration in the ideas I have. We’ll see.

SmugMug photo gallery HERE.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Finally, if you interpret anything on this blog as me asking or wanting pity, encouragement, or advice to better my life, know my subtle mix of irony, sarcasm, and humor is blowing right by you.

About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
This entry was posted in Colorado, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Musings Stuff, Photo-effects, Photography, Photography Stuff, Writing, Writing Stuff and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Writing ideas

  1. I’m guessing that most of these photos are from Bryce Canyon. Am I right?

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  2. mvschulze says:

    Alluring subject, difficult to ignore as we witness the explosion of AI (nomenclature pending) development, and a yearning for a glimpse of our future, 50 years, 100 years, 1000 years…. M :-)

    Like

    • disperser says:

      The way we are going, a hundred years from now we might not even know what a screwdriver is (and I don’t mean the drink . . . that, we’ll probably know). My bet is on humans not being smart enough to avoid self-destruction.

      . . . of course, there will not be anyone around to collect from . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  3. AnnMarie says:

    I did keep up with your narrative, but . . . it required a lot of concentration. No easy read, for me. So your short fragment gave my brain quite a workout! Nevertheless, the subject is very interesting and has lots of potential, as seen in your new light of understanding. I’m sure you, as a master weaver (in my estimation), will weave a good many tales.

    As for your splendid photos, your extra “touch” makes them sublime! Now these require little brain work, just effortless admiration.

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    • disperser says:

      The difficulty with the narrative is threading a fine line between the familiar (partners and offsprings and names, and family) and what would be a new way for these elements to play out. Plus, as I mention, the whole pronoun thing is complicated. In this case, names were arrived at for humor, but also to identify the traditional components of the family unit.

      I would get flack for precisely because it assumes a traditional unit roughly corresponding to male and female couple with two kids. Depending how progressive people are, you could go with other combinations, but the reality is that artificial awarenesses would have no need for gender differentiation or reproductive imperatives like humans do. I suspect the relationships, if any, would be so alien that we might not even recognize them as such.

      As much as I have many ideas, they will be difficult to execute them. At least, they will be for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. oneowner says:

    I like soul music. Does that count?

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    • disperser says:

      First, I did not know soul had a band, orchestra, or, for that matter, any musical playing ability. For another, I can’t speak to a soul’s mathematical abilities. I mean, music has some of its roots in math, but I would not know where to begin if I wanted to use soul to count.

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  5. I find your story ideas AND your Fragment story very creative and fascinating! I love how your story ended! I’d like to read more stories about HUBY and HONY! BTW: is it at all autobiographical?!

    What is the first robot you remember…in reading, or television, or movies?

    I’ll think longer, but just off the top of my head…my first memory of a robot was Rosey the Robot in the cartoon The Jeffersons. In the ’80’s, when my kids were growing up, there were lots of robots on TV and in the movies. :-)

    HUGS!!! :-)

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    • disperser says:

      That short was a tough slog . . . I will need to work out pronouns for non-human characters. His, hers, he, she, all seem out of place . . . and easy to slip into. And no, not autobiographical; many moons ago, we decided there would be no subroutines and locked down the possibility of spontaneous occurrences.

      First robot . . . that’s a tough one. I read a lot when I was younger, but I’m pretty sure there were no mechanical humanoids in the fiction I read. I would guess the first exposure to robotics, robots, and cyborgs in entertainment would have been between 1966 and 1970 (we came to the US in 1966).

      Before that, I might have been exposed to any one of the ancient automatons:
      http://www.robotshop.com/media/files/PDF/timeline.pdf

      If you were born and raised here, I might challenge the Rosey the Robot memory; I’m pretty sure you would have seen the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. I think it loosely qualifies as a robot. Heck, the Straw Man probably also fits the bill.

      For me, probably Lost in Space, the Jetsons, Dr. Who, and a few other cartoons (8 Man comes to mind) all compete with offering the first robotic exposure as they were all on in 1966. I could not say which would have impressed me. I also used to watch Get Smart, and Hymie the Robot was a favorite.

      For reference in multiple mediums . . .
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fictional_robots_and_androids

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Well that was certainly a let down, is nothing sacred anymore? Truth, facts thrown out without a thought to the effect it will have on devoted disciples?

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    • disperser says:

      Devoted disciples will not waste an erg of energy in thinking about what I wrote. That’s assuming they even read it. Most religious folks long ago left for greener pastures where one can easily gather as much bull dropping as one needs to feed one’s fantasy.

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